King Creole, and he got an exemption allowing him to finish the movie not on his behalf but because the studio had already invested a lot of time and money into the film. Eventually, though, he had to go.
BJ's connection? He and Elvis both arrived at Fort Chaffee on the same day, and both went through having their hair clipped to regulation length. And both went on to have very meaningful, memorable lives.
On March 24th, 1958 (five days after BJ's birthday), Elvis Presley came to Fort Chaffee, which is close to Barling and these days part of Fort Smith. TIME Magazine reported that day:
Tooling up to a Memphis induction center in his li’l ol’ unpretentious cream-colored Cadillac, Dreamboat Groaner Elvis Presley, a hulking 21, went bravely inside, peeled off his inconspicuous scarlet and black jacket and other trappings, permitted medicos to examine him. The doctors’ verdict: a fine broth of a lad, pelvis and all, eligible for drafting—probably to serve in some special services division, tote some such gone weapon as a guitar. Before rolling off in his Caddie, Elvis allowed that the intelligence test he had taken was a breeze. Groaned the bobby-soxers’ golden calf: “Di’nt seem hard a’tall. Ah’m sure Ah passed!” (He did.)
Part of the reason all those Elvis fans were in a tizzy was because Army regulations stipulated a clean, short haircut - a crewcut, if you will. Once the rumor got out that Elvis planned to join the Army, folks got to hemming and hawing. Senators checked to see if there were some way he could get an exemption and keep his sideburns and pompadour, on the request of some of his fans.
That morning, after stopping for breakfast at The Coffee Cup in West Memphis, Elvis Presley went to Fort Chaffee. And once his physical was done, he went and had a seat in the barber's chair. Dozens of photographers were there to document the moment.
You'll notice the guy sweeping hair off the floor. So here's the thing - there are a LOT of people around Fort Smith these days who claim to have a lock of Presley's hair from the historic haircut. But that hair
What's probably most surprising about Elvis and his stay at Fort Chaffee, was that he was just there for three days before being shipped out. But there are all sorts of Fort Smith Elvis stories. Go figure.
In 2008, the Chaffee Barbershop
There's also a loop that plays concerning the three movies filmed at Fort Chaffee - Biloxi Blues, The Tuskegee Airmen and A Soldier’s Story.
There's so much about Fort Chaffee at the facility, that another building will soon be converted for use. The two-story barrack will house most of the Chaffee Military Museum, and will hopefully be up and running within three years.
epic road trip on US Highway 71 from the Louisiana border to the Missouri state line.
check out this website. And if you get lost trying to find it like I did, call (479) 242-2724.
Other places to visit while you're in Fort Smith:
Fort Smith National Historic Site
Fort Smith Museum of History
Enchanted Doll Museum
Miss Laura's Visitors Center
Share our experiences - click here to see where else we went on our epic road trip along US Highway 71 from the Louisiana border to the Missouri state line.